Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)
Outdoor Report

Managing and Conserving Our Wildlife and Natural Resources

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this issue:
  • VDGIF Basic Law Enforcement Academy Graduates 3rd Class
  • 2007-08 Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest Now Available
  • How Are The Fish Bitin'?
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Vernie Kennedy Honored with Morgan Award for Hunter Education Service
    • "The Woods in Your Backyard" Workshops Coming in July
    • Teens Learn Outdoor Skills Through Xtreme JAKES Event
    • Women in the Outdoors Event Coming in July
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Planning and Preparation for Summer Safety
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Big Apple Archery Tournament June 29 - July 1 at Buggs Island
    • Applications Due June 30 for Virginia Naturally School Recognition
    • Women in the Outdoors Event July 14 in Hampton
    • Virginia Wildlife Action Plan Featured on Communicating Today
    • Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and James Rivers - Fish Kills Update
    • Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Grant Application Period Open
  • Fishin' Report

VDGIF Basic Law Enforcement Academy Graduates 3rd Class

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Basic Law Enforcement Academy graduated its third class of seven officers on June 22, 2007. Additionally, five previously sworn officers were recognized for completing the VDGIF Academy Modified Training Program. The 3rd Basic Class will take up their assignments across the Commonwealth and proceed with 12 additional weeks of field training under the direct supervision of a division field training officer. The new officers completed an intensive 30-week training program that included more than 200 courses.

Effective July 1, 2007, VDGIF sworn personnel will no longer be called "game wardens" but "conservation police officers." Governor Tim Kaine signed the bill into law this past spring following the 2007 Session of the General Assembly. Virginia conservation police officers have full police authority, however their efforts focus on enforcing the Commonwealth's wildlife and boating laws. The name change is intended to make the full scope of the officers' authority clear to people they encounter during their daily patrols of Virginia's fields, forests and waters. Typically, one officer is assigned to work a county or city, but in some cases there may be more than one assigned to a jurisdiction depending on the needs of that community.

For more information with a list of graduates and the locality where they will be assigned, see the news release.

2007-08 Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest Now Available

VDGIF is distributing the new 2007-2008 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations and Information digest. In addition to laws and regulations, included again this year is the Hunting and Trapping Annual. This expanded supplement to the hunting digest includes information about VDGIF programs, wildlife management and research projects, harvest data, and related facts about Virginia's wildlife. Featured topics include detailed information on deer, bear, turkey, small game and furbearer management programs. For landowners, information is included on liability, posting recommendations and habitat management incentive programs. There are a few new regulations this year that are mostly license related. The 80-page booklet is available free of charge from license sales agents, Regional VDGIF offices and the Richmond Headquarters office. A PDF format will be available on the VDGIF Web site July 1. To offset printing costs, paid advertisements have been added to the digest this year.

Virginia offers among the most liberal seasons and bag limits in the country for white-tailed deer. Virginia has had a long-standing tradition of both fall and spring turkey hunting. The abundance of small game species, such as squirrel and rabbit, also offers the opportunity for young hunters to participate in the tradition of sport hunting just as their parents and grandparents once did.

How Are the Fish Bitin'?

Anglers across the state can get answers on fishing conditions for many of their favorite rivers and lakes by reading the Fishin' Report, included in this and future issues of the Outdoor Report. License agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares the Fishin' Report from interviews with contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report. The Fishin' Report will only be available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.

Got your fishing license yet? Purchase your license online!

People and Partners in the News

Vernie Kennedy Honored with Morgan Award for Hunter Education Service

Vernie Kennedy, of Bedford, received Virginia's highest Hunter Education award on April 14, 2007. He was presented the William Dixon Morgan Memorial Award, given annually to the Hunter Education instructor deemed to have contributed the most to Hunter Education. Since volunteering as a Hunter Education instructor in the 1990's, he has trained over 2,400 students and logged in excess of 2,600 hours of volunteer service to the VDGIF Hunter and Outdoor Education Programs. Vernie has also assisted in VDGIF-sponsored activities and events across the state including women and family programs, 4-H Shooting Sports, Boy Scout activities, National Wild Turkey Federation JAKES events and many other youth oriented activities. To read more about Vernie and his accomplishments, see page 31 of the July issue of Virginia Wildlife magazine.

"The Woods in Your Backyard" Workshops Coming in July

Did you know that by selecting certain trees for firewood, you can improve wildlife habitat, scenic values and regenerate young trees, all at the same time? Do you have a few acres you'd like to turn into habitat for wildlife? You can influence what happens in your natural area by better understanding what you have, what you want and available tools to help you accomplish your goals.

The three "Woods in Your Backyard" workshops conducted by the Virginia Cooperative Extension are scheduled for July 24 and 31, 2007 in Warrenton; July 26 and August 2 in Madison; and July 30 and August 6 in Fredericksburg. A new manual/workbook and Resource CD has been developed for these workshops. The cost of the training is $15 for individuals or $20 per couple, which includes a copy of the workbook and accompanying Resource CD-ROM. Attendance is limited and pre-registration is required.

For more information about the workshops and how you can learn to better manage your natural areas or create new ones, go to the Virginia Cooperative Extension's Web site (PDF).

Teens Learn Outdoor Skills Through Xtreme JAKES Event

"Fun, exciting, awesome," are some of the expressions from teens participating in a new outdoor skills event called Xtreme JAKES. JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship, not to mention a lot of fun. The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (VANWTF) and VDGIF sponsor this award winning program to get youth excited about trying outdoor sports like archery, fly fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and nature awareness skills. For beginning, or experienced young sportsmen and sportswomen, the Xtreme JAKES workshops provide opportunities to learn new skills and try new activities to add challenge and excitement to their outdoor adventures. You do not have to be a VANWTF member to participate. Youth ages 17 and younger learn basic and advanced outdoor skills hands-on, taught by qualified volunteer instructors. An Xtreme JAKES Event will be held in Rockbridge County near Fairfield, July 7, 2007. For event information contact Linda Layser at (540) 886-1761 or email Pre-registration is required and available on the VANWTF Web site.

Women in the Outdoors Event Coming In July

A Women in the Outdoors (WITO) event will be held in Augusta County on July 21, 2007, hosted by the Augusta Area Chapter WITO and Shenandoah Stone Quarry near Raphine. This event provides women of all ages and skill levels a friendly and supportive environment to learn new activities. These events provide opportunities to make new friends, help build tight family bonds and create memories that will last a lifetime. The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (VANWTF) and VDGIF co-sponsor WITO events statewide. For information contact Clara Johnston (540) 377-6038 or email Pre-registration is required and available on the VANWTF Web site.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

This edition of Be Safe... Have Fun! was written by the Editor, David Coffman, based on his experiences, including mistakes, the past 30 years camping, fishing and exploring our wonderful wild places.

Planning and Preparation Needed for Safe Summer Adventures

Skeeters, ticks, and snakes, oh my! If you stop to think about all the critters and conditions that can possibly make your summer outdoor activities miserable, you may make a big mistake and stay home. With a little planning, preparation and the proper gear, you can minimize the discomforts that come with any outdoor adventure. The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," relates directly to you and your outdoor plans. There are some basic safety precautions directly related to summer heat and critter activity that warrant your attention.

Clothing: dress for the conditions you plan to encounter, then take additional items in case conditions change. Consider wearing pants that have the zip-off legs to give some protection in case you encounter brush, poison ivy (leaflets three, let it be!), or ticks. Same advice for shirts - take a long sleeve - it may get cooler if out after sunset. Wear light colors, they are cooler and do not attract mosquitoes like dark shades. Carry a small folding poncho for sudden downpours. Wear a hat to provide shade. Use sunscreen, even if you already have your tan.

Water: have plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration. As an Eagle Scout, the motto "Be Prepared" has helped me and my companions out of unforeseen circumstances on many occasions. I offer a personal tip for long drives. Always take a cooler with ice and a variety of liquid refreshments in your vehicle on any trip 5 miles or 500. With heavy traffic just about anywhere you go these days, a traffic stopping incident, or breakdown may strand you for hours, miles away from any refreshment. Keep a couple of bottles of water, or sports drink and some packaged snacks in your vehicle just in case. You may just make someone's day, including your own. Be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion - these conditions can kill. Keep hydrated and do not over do it. Know your physical limits. Rest or get in shade to prevent heat stress.

Critters: wear insect repellant. There are many kinds on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. If you happen to encounter a snake, its best to leave it alone. Many species of snakes, including venomous ones, are very beneficial to humans. Snakes are not aggressive and only bite in self defense, or if provoked. If bitten by a venomous snake, stay calm and seek medical attention immediately. Most venomous snake bites in Virginia only result in some swelling and discomfort. Bee, wasp and hornet stings pose a greater risk, especially if you are allergic to them. If you are allergic, keep the proper medications with you and tell your companions in case you need medical assistance. Rabies gets a lot of attention in the summer. If during the daytime, you see a fox, raccoon, or other mammal that is normally nocturnal and elusive acting aggressively or strangely, keep away. Contact local animal control authorities or the police immediately with the location of the animal.

Finally, always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. These days with cell phones, SUVs and GPS, we have gotten somewhat complacent on this basic safety rule. Murphy's Law is lurking out there - no cellular signal, dead batteries, twisted an ankle - insert your own excuse here. No wildland adventure is without some risk - it's why we call it "wild" and part of the appeal of venturing outdoors! If you take simple steps to be prepared, have the proper gear for the conditions and take basic safety precautions, you optimize your chances for a great wildland experience. Now go out there and have fun, seek adventure and enjoy our great wild places.

In Case You Missed It...

Editor's note: With numerous new subscribers each issue, we realize that some of the seasonal features are important and timely enough to bear repeating. So readers can easily review these seasonal items, we have retained the headlines and information links in this section "In case you missed it..."

Help Spread the News!

We hope you enjoy the new, electronic Outdoor Report and invite you to share this information with your friends and colleagues. Simply visit the Department's Web site and click on the Outdoor Report link to subscribe. New editions are sent directly to your email address every two weeks. Stay informed on issues and opportunities about Virginia's outdoors!

Fishin' Report

Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.

The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.

The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested. Consult the regional location map below to find the major river or lake you want to know about.

For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) Web site.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Chuck Hyde at Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir tells lucky anglers that bass fishing is "excellent" and crappie also "pretty good". In fact, Chuck tells us that all fishing has "really picked up". James Carlton and Brandon Gentry caught and released three bass each, with some weighing over 7 lbs. Chuck also says that morning fishing off the banks is a good bet. Water quality is good.

Portsmouth: The word from Mike Gizara at Lake Meade and Cohoon Bait and Tackle is that shellcrackers are doing well. In fact, Linwood Matthews brought in one weighing 1 lb. 10 oz. Bass are also hitting - one was brought in that weighed over 6 lbs. White perch and crappie are also cooperating with local anglers. Water quality is clear and 82 degrees.

Chickahominy Lake: According to Randall Kierstead, bass at Eagle's Landing are hitting really well. He also reports there has been no apparent harm to the fishing conditions since a local dam broke earlier in the month. David Knicely from Glen Allen brought in 3 pike, 3 bowfin, and 3 bass, with the biggest bass over 2 lbs. Kenny Drennon brought in 30 cats, with the biggest around 4 lbs. Richard Simmons came in with 9 bass, 8 of them over 2 lbs. So go out and get your own whopper!

North Landing River and Back Bay: At West Neck Marina, Dewey Mullins says that lots of bass are coming around; some over 3 ½ lbs. Lots of small white perch are also coming in. Dewey expects the perch, and the stripers that follow them, to get bigger as time goes by. Bluegill are also biting well. Dewey wants me to remind you that there is a bass tournament that is usually on the 2nd Sunday of each month. For more info call (757) 426-6735.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Lynchburg: Local expert Doug Lane reports that bass are hitting on poppers and crawdads. The local cats are really going for minnows. There have been reports of citation-level fish of several species. The water quality is clear and warm.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Bobcat's Bait and Tackle tells me that trolling for stripers in the Netbust and Ivyhill areas is a good bet. Bass are responding to Carolina rigs and deep crank baits. Water quality is somewhat stained and around 70 degrees.

Leesville: Fred Tannehill of Tri County Marina says that lots of cats are cooperating with local anglers. Some have been in the 14-18 inch range. Not many bass are biting, but a few have come in, as have a few bream. Water quality is clear and warm.

Philpott Reservoir: Shaw Perdue of Franklin's Outdoors tells us that stripers are coming in big, one weighed in at 12 lbs. The cats are doing the same, responding best to live bait, especially alewives. The recent hot weather has forced the crappie to go deep. Water quality is clear and around 82 degrees.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead at the Virginia Outdoorsman's Store lets us know that the striper fishing is varied with some hitting deep, some shallow. At night the stripers are going for Rapala Vampires, ThunderSticks and Broken-back Redfins, also Long A's. Bass are also hitting at night on ThunderSticks and Redfins. Both day and night bass are striking plastic worms. Cats are also going for shad and panfish. Water quality is clear and 80 degrees.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Greg Osborne reports that stripers are hitting well at night. Angler Rick Boyd brought in a 28 lb striper. Other species have been slow to bite. Water quality is clear and warm.

Lower New River: Big Z's John Zienius tells us that night fishing is good with black spinner bait or black and some other dark colored bait. Fishing in general has been slow to medium. Bass are also responding to the night angler's crawfish crankbait. Muskies have been coming in big. Water quality has been clear, but in need of rain and around 80 degrees.

North Fork of the Holston: Jamie Laime says the smallmouth bass are responding to crankbaits and dark colored soft plastics. Water quality is slightly stained and warm.

South Holston Reservoir: Bill Faber of the Sportsman's Marina let me know that the walleyes are striking night and day. The night fishing for crappies is "good but not great". The bass at night are responding to root beer colored pig-n'-jigs. There have been several walleyes and crappies that have been "keepers". The water is low and clear, with a temperature of 80 degrees.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Larry Andrews at the Bait Place reports that bass are hitting fairly well. He wants to remind you that there is a tournament there every Friday night. Recently a 26-inch rainbow was brought in by Dennis Perko. The water quality is clear and 78 degrees.

Lake Robertson: Barbara Steinbrenner reports that largemouth bass are going for artificials. The cats are not biting well yet. The bluegills are hitting mealworms. The water quality is clear and warm.

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray tells us that the trout in the Blue River are doing well, responding best to Mr. Rapidan's dry fly 16-18, and Murray's Flying Beetle 16. For mountain streams it is best to park on Skyline Drive and hike up to the stream heads. For smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah, around the town of Edinburgh, the best flies are the Shenandoah Popper 4 and the Shenandoah Chartreuse 6, also the Murray's Sunfish Streamer 8 and the Murray's Hellgrammite 6. Water quality is good with temperatures at 58 degrees in the streams and 78 in the river.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

James around Richmond: Mike Ostrander let me know that the flathead cats are biting where the water is low and clear. There have also been a few smallmouth sunfish and bluegill. Spinners and grubs are working best for smallmouths. The water quality is fairly clear and warm.

Now go catch a whopper!

In upcoming issues of the new Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Snakes in the backyard may be a good thing!
  • Opportunities for persons with disabilities featured at August Sportsman's Show in Richmond
  • Meet the Game Warden of the Year
Black-Crowned Night Heron.jpg. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
by Spike Knuth

If you live near a marsh, swamp, river, pond or even a subdivision lake, you have probably heard or seen a black-crowned night heron. Usually you'll see them right at dusk, flying with slow to medium wing beats, often uttering a "quonk" or "squawk" call. These herons get active just at dark, going to some watery feeding grounds to feed on small fish, frogs, small rodents and aquatic insects.

They measure about 2 feet long -- looking stockier than other herons --especially because they stand up with neck rolled up, giving them a hunch-backed appearance. The bill of a night heron is a bit thicker and shorter and it stands on shorter legs than some of the others. Basically black and gray above, white below, they have a black crown and black wing markings. The young are grayish brown with white spotting.

Black-crowned night herons nest in colonies, usually in low trees and shrubs like wax myrtle and marsh elder, or even on the ground on a raised area—a small hammock or tump. The nest is a loose affair of sticks and they may raise two broods.

The night heron feeds in tidal creeks, pond-edges, river edges, swamps and marshes. When occasionally seen hunting in daylight, it is a very patient hunter. It will sit statue-like for many minutes, staring and waiting for a fish or frog. When it does move it moves quickly to strike out at its prey. Black-crowned night herons move south in early October.

·    ·    ·

This section of each issue of the Outdoor Report features one of the 925 animals that have been identified in Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan whose existence is at risk.

Think you can't make a difference? You can! Be wild and work with your local officials and in your local communities to conserve Virginia's wildlife resources. Find out how you can help and join our team!

June 2007
29-July 1 Big Apple Archery Tournament, VA Bowhunters Association, Buggs Island
July 2007
7 Xtreme JAKES Event, Fairfield,
14 Women in the Outdoors Event (PDF), Hampton
20-22 Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) Convention and Sportsman Show, Page County Fairgrounds, Luray
21 Kids Fishing Derby (PDF), Lake Fairfax Park, Reston
21 Women in the Outdoors Event (PDF), Raphine
24 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Warrenton
26 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Madison
30 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Fredericksburg
31 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Warrenton
August 2007
2 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Madison
6 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Fredericksburg
10-12 Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, VA Deer Hunters Association, Richmond
24-26 Mother Daughter Outdoors (PDF), Appomattox
The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Visit Find Game, the Department's award-winning online public hunting lands locator!

For persons with disabilities: a calendar of hunting, fishing, and skill-building events, as well as areas designed for access to persons with disabilities can be found on the Department's online events calendar, accessible fishing areas page, as well as the VANWTF site.

Find out where to fish, fishing access, and much more at the Department's Web site.

With summer closed to most hunting seasons, now is a good time to go to a range and sight in your firearms or archery equipment so you are ready when the fall seasons begin.
Groundhogs have a continuous open season on private lands only.
Please consider contributing to Hunters for the Hungry through the $2 check-off when purchasing a license, or at any time through our online Outdoor Catalog.
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email

FOR AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, contact the local game warden immediately through the local sheriff's office or police department.

Don't allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen!

  • If you would like to become a regular subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine call 1-800-710-9369, visit the Department's Web site, or mail a check payable to "Treasurer of Virginia" and send it to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, 4010 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23230. A one-year subscription or 12 issues is only $12.95. Let Virginia Wildlife magazine be your guide to the best in hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife information.


Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230
(804) 367-1000 -